Lucy Maguire '08
September 08, 2023

Royal Recognition for Lucy Maguire ’08

Youth music program leader honored by King Charles III
by Nancy Hitchcock

From a very young age, most everything Lucy Maguire ’08 immersed herself in revolved around making and teaching music—from street performing every summer for more than 15 years starting at age 6 to playing the organ at All-School Meeting at PA to working 16 hours a day at a “music for social action” program called Nucleo.

Maguire launched Nucleo in London in 2013 to offer ensemble-based music opportunities for underrepresented children and young adults. In January, King Charles III appointed Maguire—Nucleo CEO and founder—as a “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” (MBE) in His Majesty’s New Year’s honours list.

“The concept of Nucleo is that you can use music making as a way to create social change and transformative learning and life experiences for children,” says Maguire. “The idea, which is based on El Sistema [a music education program founded in Venezuela in 1975], is to change people’s lives and communities through music.”

Nucleo, which started with just four students, now offers intense after-school music lessons to about 400 students a year. By practicing their instruments and working hard, students improve their self-esteem, motivation, self-confidence, and social skills.

Nucleo, Maguire's music program, celebrated its 10th anniversary this year with a concert.

Maguire began her own musical journey at age 3 when she took violin lessons and then learned to play the piano, trumpet, and organ. To gain performance experience, she and her older brother started busking when she was only 6. “My mom couldn’t get us to practice during summer vacations, so she got us street performers permits,” she says.

When Maguire came to Andover as a ninth grader, her life continued to revolve around music. She taught faculty children the violin, volunteered with the Andover-Lawrence Strings community engagement program for four years, and during her senior year started her own orchestra with friends, called Unaccompanied Minors.

At Andover, Maguire realized that she was interested in the musical community and group music making. She also learned that she enjoyed teaching, thanks in large part to longtime music instructor William E. Thomas, who was the conductor of the Academy’s orchestra and Cantata Choir.

“Mr. Thomas was very important in influencing my future,” she says. “He put me into teaching scenarios for the first time. He was involved with Project STEP, which provides classical music training to diverse communities. I wish he could have known about what I am doing now; I think he’d like it. He really liked young musicians—and I have some great ones!”

After Andover, Maguire chose an unconventional path. She drove a rickshaw in London, spent a semester at the New England Conservatory in Boston, explored music for social action programs in Columbia and Peru, and lived in Venezuela for a year to play music and teach at El Sistema.

“Eventually, I decided to come back to London to set up Nucleo,” she says. “It’s something that my local community didn’t have. I hope to be giving students what I got from Andover, along with the network and experience of being part of an interconnected musical community.”

Follow Nucleo on Instagram: @thenucleoproject

Other Stories

On view

Shows from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta to travel to Andover

Jerry Secundy
Leveraging change

Before becoming a lifelong environmental rights advocate, Jerry Secundy ’59 helped desegregate Harvard